Cold spot on M & A in France

JP Morgan, Lazard and Morgan Stanley are in a downturn dominated by deals with the United States. A new deal is starting in 2019, with major public issues.

The privatization of Aeroports de Paris, the maneuvers around CNP Assurances, telecoms, or the future of the Renault-Nissan alliance will perhaps bring back the center of gravity of mergers and acquisitions to France in 2019. These last twelve months, the deals launched by the French groups have in any case not been the same as those announced in 2017 with Essilor Luxottica, Safran Zodiac or Alstom Siemens, in the wake of the election of Emmanuel Macron.

Transactions fell 29% to $ 173 billion, according to Refinitiv. The hexagonal targets attracted half as many offers as in 2017 ($ 59 billion). Foreigners were less active and the major French maneuvers collapsed (-66%, to 24 billion dollars), after the unsuccessful attempts of Covea on Scor, Carrefour and Casino or Bouygues and SFR.

“France experienced a sharp decline in relative terms in European M & A last year. Its historical market share of 11% has almost halved to 6%, says Sophie Javary, Vice President of BNP Paribas’ EMEA Corporate & Investment Banking. It is half as important as Germany (14% of the European M & A market) and is outperformed by Spain. At the same time, the dynamics of mergers in Europe has grown by more than 30%. ”

“A number of companies have announced profit warnings [like Elior, Valeo, Nexans, Natixis, or Asos, ed] and have seen their price attacked, note Stéphane Courbon and Bernard Mourad, respectively vice-chairman and boss of the bank Bank of America Merrill Lynch (Bofa) in France. If this trend is confirmed in 2019, the M & A market will remain tense, especially if the sellers’ price expectations do not adjust. A number of transactions could have their calendar slowed down or postponed.

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